Friday, November 30, 2012

Handmade Pearl Ornament

For this Chrismon ornament you will need to make a small press mold using Sculpey clay. I've included a video below that introduces a product that may be used in a similar fashion to my own mold. This young craft artist refers to the mold as a push mold, but the two are close enough. You will also need to purchase a 'dried' sea horse as well. You can find these in craft stores like Hobby Lobby or in small tourist centers by coastal towns.
You will need many sea shells as well; one per ornament. I choose to leave my sea shells unpainted on the back side. I prefer to leave all of the nicks and anomalies on the shells. These seem appropraite given the context of the Chrismon. People come in all shapes and sizes and we are full of scars and mistakes on the outside. However, on the inside, Jesus puts a piece of himself, The Holy Spirit, and this is one of the two original interpretations of the pearl of great price; the pearl that Christ Himself seeks in us. The second interpretation is about the pearl we seek, The Kingdom of God, that is Jesus. Jesus transforms us through the power of the Holy Spirit and so it is appropriate then that the side of the shell with the pearl could be represented as precious or if you use the second analogy a valuable kingdom would also be represented as thus. For a chrismon, gold would be a logical choice given that all chrismons are either gold or white or a combination of the two.
Make a simple hanger with gold thread in advance of molding the sea horse so that you may press it between the clay horse and the gold cord along with a little tacky glue for added strength.
Choose gold thread that is strong but also narrow. This will not change the clean appearance of the finished ornament if you should get gold spray paint on it during the process of assembly.
Cut off the excess clay after pressing and removing the molded sea creature. Use an air-dry clay for this part of the project. Air-Dry clays such as those made by Crayola are good alternatives to Sculpey for the mass production of this Crismon. However, these should be used only when gluing the objects to sturdy items like sea shells because Crayola air-dry clay is fragile and will break in time. Sculpey is much stronger but it also costs much more and it must also be baked. When you bake Sculpey it shrinks slightly thereby making it necessary to remove it from the shell to reglue. The sea horse may then break. This is why I use two separate clays for this particular Chrismon craft. The air-dry clay will not shrink as it clings to the surface of the shell and I can also apply some glue to the back of the sea horse as I position the creature on the inside of my shell's surface. Allow a good 24 hours for the sea horse to dry. Then spray paint the entire inside suface, let it dry approximately twenty minutes and glue down the faux pearl within the curvature of the sea creature's tail.

The Parable of the Pearl (also called the Pearl of Great Price) is a parable of Jesus of Nazareth. It appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament. According to Matthew 13:45-46 the parable illustrates the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 13:45-46: King James Version (KJV)

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

      This parable is generally interpreted as illustrating the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven (pearls at that time had a greater value than they do today), and thus has a similar theme to the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. John Nolland comments that it shares the notions of "good fortune and demanding action in attaining the kingdom of heaven" with that parable, but adds the notion of "diligent seeking."

This interpretation of the parable is the inspiration for a number of hymns, including the Swedish hymn Den Kos­tli­ga Pärlan (O That Pearl of Great Price!), which begins:
O that Pearl of great price! have you found it?
Is the Savior supreme in your love?
O consider it well, ere you answer,
As you hope for a welcome above.
Have you given up all for this Treasure?
Have you counted past gains as but loss?
Has your trust in yourself and your merits
Come to naught before Christ and His cross?
      An additional interpretation of the parable is that the merchant represents Christ, and the pearl represents the Church. This interpretation would give the parable a similar theme to that of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.
      The phrase "Pearl of Great Price" has also been interpreted more widely to apply to things of great value in a number of religious contexts.
      The pearl itself is a beautiful, single entity, formed through suffering in the heart of the oyster (in the same way that believers endure lack of wealth or comfort) and like the Church, will be put on display in a coming day. Unlike precious stones which must be cut and polished to reveal their clarity and beauty, the pearl is perfect as it comes from the oyster.

Kim from Oborocharm's demonstrates how to make a push mold  in her Mini Push Mold Tutorial

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